Taraba’s Ancient Nwonyo Fishing Carnival and the Ibi River Goddess

  • Fishermen and elders of Ibi use kola nut and smoked fish to appease the River Goddess
  • The Chief of Ibi is the custodian of the festival; while the “Sarkin Ruwa” (spiritual head of the Nwonyo Lake) is the overseer of the lake.
  • Tarabans are believed to be warm and hospitable

Taraba, a culturally rich and diverse state recently held, one of the most symbolic cultural fishing carnivals said to be probably the oldest ongoing cultural event of its type in Africa. The Nwonyo cultural event, believed to have started about 100yeras ago, is a tradition of the Ibi ethnic tribe of Taraba.

The cultural carnival itself, is held by the Ibi lake, said to be the largest in west Africa, with its tributary stretching to about 15 kilometres into the Benue River

“Nwonyo”, a Jukun Wurbo tribal word, is said to mean, the “abode for dangerous aquatic animals”, which would include sharks, snakes, hippopotamushipos and crocodiles.

Nwonyo fisherman- IMAGE: Channels

Legends, has it that the River Goddess, would usually be appeased by elders of the town with kolanut and smoked fish, a sacred ritual carried out seasonally to get the blessings and approval of the River Goddess

The festival is held during the dry season when the water level is low. The actual fishing competition is the main attraction of the cultural carnival with masquerading, traditional dances, horse riding/racing, boat racing, swimming, and boat regatta as recreational/entertainment activities.

Prize awards are given to fishermen with the largest catch and also spectators who come from various places chance on the opportunity to buy fishes at very low prices.

Nwonyo Fishing festival- IMAGE: Channels

New concerning reports by the vanguard, just days after this year’s Nwonyo festival was held, suggest that there may now be intense calls for the Commissioner of Tourism in Taraba state, , Rev. Joseph Nagombe, to be sacked.

He is accused of allegedly syphoning allocated state funds meant for the event, including colluding with dishonest winners who allegedly cut corners, by smuggling in “large rotten” fish, as catch, to cheat other unsuspecting competitors for these years coveted price, a car. To compound the embarrassing revelation, ironically the firm contracted to supply the car, allegedly delivered a “second hand refurbished” car, to the unsuspecting winner

SOURCE: Insightnortheastng

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